August cattle closed 95 lower on the session yesterday and fell to the lowest price levels since May 3rd after choppy and two-sided trade earlier in the day. A recovery rally in the US stock market and a rebound in energy and grain markets provided early support. However, further evidence of weaker cash markets this week pressured the market later in the session due to lower than expected cash market prices late Wednesday, with Kansas down $3-$4 for the week. Texas traded $3 lower on the week to $119.00 yesterday. Many traders remain concerned with the much higher than expected slaughter weights, which might suggest a few cattle are backed-up on feedlots. Average dressed steer weights for the week ending June 2nd came in at 850 pounds, up from 839 pounds the previous week and up from 820 pounds last year. Weights typically reach low levels in May, and then move higher into November. Last year, we did not reach an 850 pound average steer weight until September. Weekly U.S. beef export sales for the week ending June 7th came in at 15,800 metric tonnes, compared with the prior 4-week average of 17,600. Cumulative sales for 2012 have reached 463,600 metric tonnes, up 5.8% from last year's pace. Boxed beef cutout values were up $1.19 at mid-session yesterday and closed 41 cents higher at $198.17. This was up from $197.42 the prior week and is the highest beef trade since March 1st. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 127,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 510,000 head, up from 507,000 head last week at this time but down from 522,000 head a year ago.
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